GUWAHATI, February 12: The Assam Branch Indian Tea Association (ABITA) was formed in 1889 after the Assam Valley tea planters decided to work in close cooperation with the Indian Tea Association, Calcutta which was formed in 1881. The office of the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association, as per old records, was first located at Kokilamukh and operated between 1889 and 1904. The office transited between Dibrugarh and Jorhat and filly from 1977 the head office is located at Guwahati.
The ABITA represents the collective interests of its members and advises on legal matters to the tea estates. It has the reputation and distinction of being fair and just in resolving labour issues which members face and has high credibility in guiding and implementing decisions on matters pertaining to the industry.
Presently the ABITA member gardens numbering 277 produce approx. 232 million kgs. of made tea as per the 2013 statistics. It covers an area of tea growing land of 1,34,474 hectares in 15 districts of Assam. The ABITA member gardens look after a resident population of approx. 17.5 lakh persons including families of workers resident in the estate. Approx. 4.5 lakh workers earn their daily living from the ABITA gardens either through direct or indirect employment.
The ABITA gardens are the pride of Assam. They are known for their quality CTC and orthodox teas. Major companies in the world market are members of the association. The ABITA has both the corporate houses as well as individual garden owners as their members who produce quality tea and adhere to the values and vision of our founders.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been one of the focal points of the ABITA members who work through the association. CSR work in the field of education, promotion of cultural heritage, establishment of ‘Pragjyoti - ITA Centre for Performing Arts’ at Guwahati, development of sports and sports infrastructure, infrastructural support to medical institutions, promotion of Agro-Technology, farming knowledge and providing subsidies to develop margil farmers in the State have been the corner stone of the association for the betterment and uplift of the society.
The ABITA fulfils its responsibility to its workers by promoting the tiol Family Welfare programme since 1950. Presently the programme is being pursued with vigor and sincerity by all the estates. Additiolly, encouragement is given to the workers by conducting football tourments, promotion of cultural heritage of the tea tribe community and facilitating the development of local talent in the sphere of handicrafts and skill development.
The ABITA has embarked on a partnership with tiol Health Mission (NHM) of the Govt. of India promoted and partnered by the Government of Assam. This assistance of the Govt. of Assam for an all inclusive medicare system is now available in 105 estates of its membership. The residents of the estates have benefited from the PPP mode as was decided by the Government of Assam since 2007.
Another unique direction which the ABITA took in the year 2000 was its partnership with UNICEF. An intervention which started in 2000 through the Education, Creche Development & Nutrition Programme, later expanded and diversified into a more structured intervention to promote health, nutrition, sanitation and child rights amongst the tea population. The project work is currently continuing with effective participation and all-round acceptance by the workers and their families. The focus on developing the adolescent girls through the Skill Development Programme has been extremely well received - both tiolly and intertiolly.
The current challenges faced by the industry are changes in the climate which has affected the cropping pattern of tea resulting from erratic weather, droughts and attack of pests. The other challenges are to produce quality teas for which Assam is famous. With rising costs of inputs and a deficient power availability syndrome, meeting the supply needs of the tiol and intertiol market at competitive rates has become increasingly difficult. Human resource is the main input for a tea garden. In recent times availability of labour and their qualitative and quantitative outputs have been an area of concern. The problem has been brought to the notice of the Unions with a hope that the problem would be resolved.
The ABITA has stepped into its 125th year of service to the planting community. It is a momentous occasion in the history of development of the tea industry in Assam. We are proud ourselves to be part of the social and economic fabric of Assam and have continuously endeavoured to be part of progress of the tea industry in the State. This was stated in a press release.